Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business
Three ways to help your sales reps -- and your company -- make more money
It’s time to kick your revenue into high gear and adding sales people could be the ticket. It seems reasonable. Extra feet on the street and voices on the phone, touching more prospects, will result in more sales. Right?
The short answer is, maybe or maybe not.
There are always the usual things to worry about when bringing sales representatives on board. Issues range from splitting territories and deciding if you focus by industry, direct sales versus resellers, or product type -– and many more. And then there’s getting the compensation plan right.
Successful sales representatives are very goal driven and understand how to connect the dots. You point them in a direction, they locate opportunities, and without fail they’ll find creative ways to make things happen.
But, you just can’t stand back and watch the revenue flow in. That’s because sales people also need to be treated with care and fed a proper diet. Otherwise you’ll set your sales reps and your company up for failure.
These people are the front line of your company’s success and see themselves in a battle, trying to get others who don’t exactly welcome them with open arms to buy your products.
Left to their own devices, they’ll do whatever is needed to sell your solutions, even if it’s not exactly the way you want it done. And above all, they’ll work the compensation plan in ways you never thought of.
Let’s just get this out in the open now -- great sales people are a challenge to manage. If you’re not careful you won’t get them to do what you want. Yet, you can change the way sales reps operate to ensure mutual success. Here’s how.
Close the sales and marketing divide. Most business owners and marketing people have not worked as a quota-carrying field sales rep. The result is that tools and content don’t effectively support the entire customer acquisition cycle. And many times materials are outdated. That drives sales people crazy! Having the right information sheets, presentations, or webinar that match a certain stage in the cycle is critical. Keep in mind that the people who market and the people who sell are on the same team in your company -- the revenue generation team. Sit down on a regular basis and jointly develop tools and a promotion road map, overlaying marketing materials to the different stages of the sales process.
Communicate expectations with your compensation plan. Setting expectations and what’s in your compensation plan go hand in hand. You want both the marketing and selling teams to know what the company’s goals are and what’s expected of them. Be clear, very clear. Compensation plans are important here because they are really behavior modification tools. Sales reps are good at figuring out how to “work” a plan. They also know when a plan isn’t realistic and attainable. Keep it simple and reward them fairly, but carefully think through issues like bonuses for new accounts and paying on profit instead of gross revenue. Lay out a few realistic scenarios of the compensation they’ll receive. Keep your sales force focused, disciplined, and happy and they’ll drive home the revenue.
Deal reporting gone wild. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are designed to make businesses more productive. If you don’t use one, you need to -- before you hire your first sales rep. Used correctly, CRM will give you a clear view of where leads are in the sales process, important follow-up dates, progress by account and sales person, projected revenue flow, and much more. But don’t fall into the trap of using CRM as a way to micro-manage you sales reps -- they’ll be frustrated and you’ll waste time that’s better spent selling. Worse, acceptance will suffer and the data you collect will be incomplete and possibly incorrect. CRM systems should be easy to use and help you and your sales people make more money.
A great sales person will drive revenue results for your business. But care and feeding begins long before they come aboard.
Help your revenue-generating team to do want what you want them to. Bring them into the process to get buy-in. Give them usable tools. And set expectations with clear, realistic goals.
Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.